Sealing another top-four finish in the Premier League for Tottenham Hotspur would be more satisfying than winning La Liga with Barcelona, manager Mauricio Pochettino said on Friday.
With his vibrant young Tottenham side hunting down leaders Chelsea in the Premier League and facing them in Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal, Pochettino’s work is making waves.
It seems inevitable Pochettino’s name will be linked to some of Europe’s biggest clubs once the dust settles on the season, with Barcelona possibly eyeing the man who twice won the King’s Cup with their humble neighbours Espanyol.
The good news for Tottenham fans justifiably excited by club’s inexorable rise under the Argentine is that the 45-year-old gives the impression of someone who has found the perfect environment in which to achieve his ambitions.
Asked whether success could only be measured in terms of trophies, Pochettino offered an interesting perspective in the build-up to Saturday’s Wembley showdown.
“For me all that has happened here is a massive success,” the former Argentina international told reporters with the same intensity with which he used to fly into tackles for Newells Old Boys.
“For me I want to win title yes. But with which team? It’s normal with Real Madrid, Barca, Bayern Munich, Juventus. Every manager with the big teams you are already close to winning.
“Look at Barca, with Pep, with (Frank) Rijkaard, (Tito) Vilanova, (Luis) Enrique, different managers but with the same group of players. For me top four last season was a big success, maybe more than to win one title with Barca.”
For the second successive season Tottenham have battled for the Premier League title, having failed to muster a worthwhile challenge for decades.
They are four points behind Chelsea with six matches remaining having hauled themselves into contention with a blistering run of seven successive wins.
Pochettino takes particular pride in out-stripping the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United – and Chelsea – without the kind of spending power those clubs enjoy.
“We are showing we are a team that you can trust,” he said. “I’ve been here three years now and remember the challenge back then was first to reduce the gap to the top four.
“We are fighting in our process, a completely different process to the teams in the top six too. I understand that it’s important to win titles but first it’s important to set the base, and then to win.”
Tottenham’s new 61 000-seater stadium is looming up alongside White Hart Lane although it is likely to be another 18 months before they can move into it.
While that building project continues apace, it is getting left behind by Pochettino’s achievements on the pitch.
“The process was for the team to grow at the same pace as the facilities, to arrive at the new stadium with a team that can fight the top four,” he said.
“You always love to lift trophies. But success is not just to lift a trophy, it’s how. When you don’t spend the money they spend, then that’s what I like more.”